What does wellness mean to you?

Wellness is the harmonious alignment of a healthy body and mind.

Many perceive stress as merely external, stemming from life’s challenges and trials. However, whether it’s a minor disruption in routine or a significant life event, stress is ultimately determined by the brain’s response to disturbances in the body’s internal balance. External stressors, combined with alterations in the delicate biochemical equilibrium of the brain, can intensify internal discomfort, profoundly influencing our ability to cope with external pressures.

While aging and genetic predispositions are beyond our control, preventing frailty and illness in old age is attainable. A sedentary lifestyle, excessive alcohol consumption, poor dietary choices, and stress synergistically compound damage to both body and mind.

Simply put, exercise serves as the primary antidote to combat stress, anxiety, and depression.

Firstly, exercise initiates a positive cascade effect throughout the body, brain, and mind. It enhances the functioning of various systems, including cardiovascular, immune, circulatory, digestive, muscular, and skeletal. Exercise not only alleviates the physical and emotional manifestations of stress but also operates at a cellular level. Through exercise, the body produces molecular by-products that induce cellular damage, triggering repair mechanisms that render cells more robust and resilient.

Consider this analogy: Just as muscle cells strengthen through breakdown and rebuilding, brain cells become more resilient through exercise. Beyond the physical benefits, exercise enhances cognitive function, fostering brain growth and fortifying neuronal connections, thereby enhancing stress management and cognitive abilities.

Moreover, exercise fosters physical strength and cognitive prowess. It facilitates robust interconnections between brain cells, with numerous studies demonstrating its role in neurogenesis within the hippocampus—the brain region crucial for memory consolidation and learning.

Contrast these positive impacts with the detrimental effects of stress, particularly on brain function. Chronic stress impairs the temporoparietal junction (TPJ), a brain region vital for social cognition and empathy, hindering our ability to communicate effectively and empathize with others’ emotions and perspectives.